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Buccaneers lack sting

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“We have in mind that even our respected opponents (for the title race) Bidvest Wits are still in the (Nedbank) Cup."

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In a match where his Orlando Pirates team were tipped to sting arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs like a bee, Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic admitted that his troops lacked an “extraordinary” performance.

The Buccaneers went into Saturday’s encounter as clear favourites having beaten their neighbours, Chiefs, in their last three meetings. But they were in for a surprise as they had to chase proceedings for the better part of the game.

Chiefs and Pirates played to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold-out crowd at FNB Stadium on Saturday, as Pirates had to come from behind to salvage a point in the dying minutes of the game after Chiefs took the lead early in second half.

The result was not a true reflection of the game though, as Chiefs dominated the majority of possession. “We wanted to have an extraordinary performance against a top-class team, but we didn’t have that (effect). We were supposed to cover the spaces much better, use time better and protect the numbers in all the aspects of the game, and we lagged behind in relation to what we were supposed to do,” Sredojevic said.

Had Pirates lived up to their favourites tag, they would have moved up to second on the PSL standings and closed the gap between them and log leaders Wits to two points after they lost to Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium in the other match of the day.

The Sea Robbers’ draw on Saturday was their ninth this season, making them the second team with the most draws in 19 matches.

Sredojevic though is not fazed by that stat, saying that they are still on course with their title aspirations. “I’m not worried (about the draws),” he said.

“We have in mind that even our respected opponents (for the title race) Bidvest Wits are still in the (Nedbank) Cup.

“There’s still too much to play for, and there are 11 matches to be played that we’ll approach as 11 Cup finals. We tried out the best against Chiefs, and we got what we got, and there’s no time to think about what’s behind us.”

With the Soweto derby done and dusted, the Sea Robbers will now turn their attention to continental football – where they face African champions Esperance at Stade Olympique de Rades tomorrow.

Both teams have five points in Group B so far – with the South Africans leading the group on a goal difference. Despite the fact that tomorrow’s match will be played behind closed doors due to Tunisian supporters’ unruly behaviour in last year’s group stage matches, Sredojevic believes that if needs be Pirates will squeeze out the last drop of football from their players in order to get a positive result.

– Mihlali Baleka